My mom and I went to Mandarin Cafe today for jajangmyun, which I childishly call “brown noodles.” At the end of the meal the waitress brought us two fortune cookies on the receipt plate.
Whenever there are fortune cookies in front of me, I get a little freaky: I stare intently at every single one of the optional cookies and try to see which one is “calling” to me. I need to know which cookie is meant to be mine, basically. Because which cookie I pick is absolutely essential to the wisdom that the great fortune cookie gods are about to bestow upon me. Here I am, this tiny little mortal navigating her way through this corrupt world, and all I have to do is get my cookie choice right and I’ll have a preview into that great insight of the supernatural.
So I stare at the cookies and quickly snatch up the one that calls to me the strongest.
I hastily unwrap the cookie and crack it open carefully, making sure not to spill crumbs. I keep the little piece of paper facing toward my lap so I don’t ruin the tradition and peek. I have to eat the whole cookie and completely swallow it before I can read my fortune; it’s my way of ensuring the the destiny written on the paper is sealed as my own forever. Or until the next cookie comes along.
After about a minute of careful, suspenseful, chew, chew, swallow, I turn over the little white slip:
“Your friend or partner is needing your advice and encouragement. Lucky numbers are 12, 14, 17, 21, 30, 47.”
Uh huh. Not exactly what I expected, but I can work with this. Who needs my advice out there? I’ve got plenty to give. Floss your teeth! Make sure to change your sheets once a week! Hold the door for the person behind you. Say thanks when someone holds the door for you. Exercise five days a week! This stuff’s easy.
But I really do take this fortune cookie stuff seriously. I believe what it tells me. Usually.
I believe in horoscopes too.
And even Magic 8 Balls.
I blow my eyelashes off of my fingers when they fall out. They flutter away with wishes that I will never utter to another human ear (because Cinderella said that wishes won’t come true if you tell).
Superstitions are romantic. It’s almost like a religion: it’s nice to know that there are other forces at work in your everyday life that you have no control over. It’s also nice to think that by performing such a tiny, insignificant task, you can ensure that your wildest dreams will indeed come true. I guess that’s the appeal to superstitions, really.
They’re a lot like obsessive compulsive disorders: you repeat and repeat and repeat this useless act because you think it keeps you at a normal state. I guess it’s not really true. It looks pretty ridiculous from the outside when you’re watching “True Life: I Have OCD,” but when you’re actually doing it, it seems normal. It’s an everyday thing, like breathing in and out.
OCD is like a superstition on steroids. There we go. That’s what I was trying to get at.
But you know, whatever. I don’t care if my beloved fortune cookies were packaged by a machine in North Dakota. It’s still magical to have little bits of advice from a cookie. Come on. That’s cool. The same goes for the Magic 8 Ball.
Let me keep my wishes though. I believe in the wishes completely and I take comfort in them: blowing away a loose eyelash, holding my breath going through a tunnel, saying “rabbit rabbit” on the first of the month, splitting the wishbone, or telling a secret to the first star I see when the sun goes down.